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ChefChaouen, the blue city in Morocco

Located just a few hours by bus from Tangier and far enough off the beaten track to dissuade many tourists, Chefchaouen is quiet enough for those visitors overwhelmed by the busy medinas of Fez and Marrakech, and has just enough of what is quintessentially Moroccan to be of interest to other travelers looking for something a bit more authentic.

Fes, Morocco

The most mystical of Morocco's imperial cities, Fez. Capital and spiritual center of Morocco, this city is situated in a narrow valley against the backdrop of the Middle Atlas

viernes, 27 de marzo de 2015

The blue city of Morocco, Chefchaouen

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Visitors to Morocco can find a cool, relaxing reprieve from the bustle of travel in the friendly mountain town of Chefchaouen (often abbreviated as “Chaouen”).

Located just a few hours by bus from Tangier and far enough off the beaten track to dissuade many tourists, Chefchaouen is quiet enough for those visitors overwhelmed by the busy medinas of Fez and Marrakech, and has just enough of what is quintessentially Moroccan to be of interest to other travelers looking for something a bit more authentic.

Whether you spend a couple of days wandering the clean medina streets, enjoying a hike through the Rif Mountains, or just want to relax with a book and a fresh mint tea, like most visitors to Chefchaouen, you will walk away having experienced something magical.

Map of Chefchaouen Medina

Here is a map of the Chefchaouen. You can download this map of the Chefchaouen medina for your own use. We include a similar map in each itinerary packet that travelers receive before their tour takes place with us at Journey Beyond Travel.

Chefchaouen Medina Map

Chefchaouen is located in the Rif Mountains of Morocco on the Mediterranean Coast. Morocco is an eclectic city with beauty all over.  When in Morocco, a visitor has an array of activities at the fingertips. In the High Atlas Mountains, trekking takes many visitors to Mt. Toubkal and back.

Much of the country is unpopulated, largely uncharted, and vibrantly green, especially in the valleys and the north. Whether coming for some sun and fun or hiking and biking, Morocco tours get you a slitouce of whatever it is you’re looking for.

For adventurers who want the offerings of comfort and a city adventure there is the famous Chefchaouen in Morocco. This city is situated between two peaks of the Rif Mountains.  It is considered the most beautiful town in all of Morocco by many who visit.

It is an artsy place with white washed mountain homes making you feel as if you are in your own world. There is a balance of the type of popular tourism found in Morocco and the historical culture found here. The hues of blues will mesmerize the stoutest traveler.

The number one thing to do on our list in Chefchaouen is the Medina.  The Medina is the old town of the city.  There is a heavy Andalucian influence in the architecture of the Medina with red tiled roofs littering the valley and bright blue buildings winking at you with every turn.  The lanes are narrow making walking the best way to get around the streets.  Since the Medina is one of the smaller ones in Morocco you will never feel lost.

In the heart of the Medina is Plaza Uta El- Hammam.  This square is lined with cafes and restaurants.  You can watch the world go by as you sit eating traditional dishes of Morocco. Many visitors spend the evening in the square watching others walk by relaxing after a day of sightseeing.

The plaza is dominated by the Kasbah and Grande Mosque. The Mosque is well known for its octagonal shaped tower.  History of the Mosque dates it to the 15th century.  It was built by the son of the town’s founder, Ali Ben Rachid.  Unfortunately tourists cannot tour inside the Mosque as it is not open to non- Muslims.  All the same it is worthy of visiting the area to see the structure from the outside.

The architecture is something you will not forget.  While in the square you will have a chance to see the walled fortress of the Kasbah which hosts one of the most beautiful gardens in Chefchaouen and Morocco.  Near the garden is a small Ethnographic Museum.  To learn about the culture of the Rif Mountains you will find no place better than the museum.  An art gallery is also located on the premises.  To see magnificent views of Old Chefchaouen you will have to visit this location.  Many of the paintings have been done by long ago residents as well as local artists of today.

Relaxing is part of a vacation.  To treat yourself right on this vacation consider taking advantage of one of the spas in Chefchaouen. The Center Viva Form is a most sophisticated spa.  It is located at the Atlas Riad Chaouen Hotel.  They have a full service amount of offerings from pedicures to full body massages.  A second spa is the Douches Barakat.  It is a more local place to relax and enjoy the full services offered.

The best place to go trekking in Chefchaouen when you are looking for something off the streets is going to be Talassemtane national Park.  It begins just outside of town.  The small villages of Kalaa and Akchour are well known for the trekking experiences one can have there.  The Bridge of God which is a natural structure constantly draws the attention of tourists.  The formation is a stone arch which can lead towards the cascades in the area.  The magnificent waterfalls are something to behold, and your tour operator will be more than happy to take you to the area.

Eating in Chefchaouen is a pleasure. Restaurants like La Lampe Magique provide a wonderful atmosphere while serving a top notch Moroccan cuisine.  There is a lounge at the restaurant or a roof top terrace for a better view of the city.  Auberage Dardara Restaurant offers tajine and couscous as specialities.  The restaurant is well known for having the freshest herbs and vegetables for their meals.

Chefchaouen is unlike other cities in Morocco to visit. Casablanca is a city for a quick stop, while Rabbat is an economic center. Chefchaouen is the relaxation capitol, a place to chillax and unwind.

by Sam Mitchell

martes, 17 de marzo de 2015

15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Rabat

Rabat was founded as an Arab army outpost in the 12th century and given the generic name for military encampment, Ribat, which is still in use today. For centuries Rabat and Salé were rival principalities, but eventually Rabat began to dominate the area. Salé's power was ultimately eclipsed altogether by its larger neighbour.

In the early 17th century, Rabat became a centre of anti-European piracy centred at the stronghold of the Kasbah des Oudaias. Rabat was first made a modern capital in 1912 by Morocco's French overlords, and remained the nation's capital after independence in 1956. The city is the residence of the royal family.

Nowdays, as Morocco's capital, Rabat is home to the country's most important museum, the Royal Palace, and the Mausoleum of Mohamed V, as well as to several historical attractions. Situated right on the Atlantic Ocean, with the Bou Regreg River running to the west separating it from its sister-city of Salé, Rabat is a pretty place.

It has a much calmer atmosphere than nearby Casablanca. And for many tourists, a visit to Rabat can be a pleasant surprise and a welcome break from the hustle of other Moroccan cities. History-fiends are sure to enjoy wandering the Chellah excavation area and exploring the lovely Oudaias Kasbah.

1 Oudaias Kasbah

Rabat's Kasbah district is one of the city's top sightseeing draws. Inside the 11th century fortress walls, a tranquil and tiny neighbourhood of twisting white-and-blue lanes were built in Andalusian-style. It is a joy to visit and photograph. Also inside, on Rue el Jamma, is the Kasbah Mosque, built in 1150 and the oldest mosque in Rabat. The district has fine views over to Salé and the Atlantic Ocean.

2 Hassan Tower

Hassan Tower

Built by the Almohads, the unfinished Hassan Tower was the work of ruler Yacoub al-Mansour and would have been the minaret for his grand vision of a mosque on this site. Upon his death in 1150, construction was abandoned and this 45 m tower is all that remains of his original plan. Beautiful and intricate motifs and designs cover the tower's facade, pointing to the sumptuousness of what al-Mansour had in mind. The Hassan Tower is next door to the Mausoleum of Mohamed V.
Location: Avenue Hassan II, Rabat

3 Mausoleum of Mohamed V

Mausoleum of Mohamed V

The glittering Mausoleum of King Mohamed V lies in state on the very place where, upon his return from exile in Madagascar, he gathered thousands of Moroccans together to thank God for giving independence to their country. The opulent tomb chamber is a showcase of Moroccan traditional design, and has a grand marble tomb and walls covered in zellige tiles. Only Muslims can visit the adjoining mosque.

4 Chellah Necropolis

Chellah Necropolis

The remnants of the 14th century Merinid citadel-town of Chellah are an atmospheric place. The walled ruins are positioned on an older Roman town called Sala, which archaeologists uncovered evidence of in the 1930s. Today, parts of both these settlements can be seen. Chellah thrived as a Merinid citadel in the early 14th century. The crumbled ruins of mosques and mausoleums they built here are now covered with rambling brambles, providing nesting sites for storks. The excavated Roman part of the site includes a forum, bath and temple. For a good overview of the entire Chellah ruins, an overlooking terrace provides excellent views across the site.

5 Oudaias Museum and the Andalusian Gardens

Oudaias Museum and the Andalusian Gardens

Within the Oudaias Kasbah are the lovely Andalusian Gardens, which were laid out in the early 20th century. The Oudaias Museum, set within the gardens, is housed in the opulent 17th century lodge built by Moulay Ismail as his first Rabat residence. At the far end of the lodge, a room displays an ancient Moroccan interior. Cushions in brocade, silk and gold cover the divans around the room. A little further on, there is an exhibit of ancient illuminated Qur'ans, jewellery, pottery and musical instruments.

6 Rabat Archaeology Museum

Built in 1932 and enlarged a few years later to display excavated finds, this museum is home to Morocco's best archaeological collection. The prehistoric section brings together human remains from the middle Palaeolithic period to the Neolithic, illustrating the continuity and size of the population at this time. Pre-Roman civilisations are well represented.

The Roman and Hellenistic exhibits are renowned, and the collection of bronzes is incredibly impressive. Even if you're not a museum-person, this is the one museum on your Morocco travels that you shouldn't miss.

7 Medina


Rabat's rambling Medina area has a distinctly Andalusian style to its buildings as most of the architecture here dates from the 17th century when Muslims from Spain's Andalusia region arrived. This makes it very different to the Medina's of Fes and Marrakesh. The two best shopping streets are Souk es Sebbat and Rue Souka, and there are a number of interesting buildings within the district that make a wander here worthwhile. In particular look out for the Koubba Mosque on Rue Bou Kroun, and the Merinid Fountain and Grand Mosque both on Rue Souka. The Mellah (Jewish Quarter) is located in the southeast corner of the Medina and has an interesting flea market.

8 Royal Palace

Royal Palace

Construction of Rabat's Royal Palace began in 1864, and a wall surrounds the sprawling building. The Fes el-Bali complex is not open to the public as the current king still uses the palace as his residence. You can get good photographs of the palace exterior from nearby the Sunna Mosque.

9 New City

New City

Rabat's Ville Nouvelle (New City) is home to the Archaeological Museum and also the surprisingly interesting Postal Museum (on Avenue Mohamed V), which brings together a superb collection of Moroccan stamps, telephones and telegraph machines. The streets of the Ville Nouvelle host a wealth of French colonial architecture and are a pleasant place for a stroll. Right on the district's edge, Avenue Hassan II follows the 17th century Undulations Wall separating the modern city from the Medina.

10 Abul Hassan Medersa

Abul Hassan Medersa

Directly across the Bou Regreg River, facing Rabat, the town of Salé is home to several interesting medersas (madrassa - Islamic school of learning) and mausoleums. In particular, the Abul Hassan Medersa is worth a visit. It dates from the Merinid era in the 14th century and has an interior covered with beautifully restored examples of traditional religious decoration, including zellige tile-work and carved wood panels. If you climb up to the roof you can get excellent views across the water to Rabat.

11 Salé Medina

Salé Medina

The Medina area in Salé is a quaint and picturesque place to spend a few hours in the afternoon. As well as the Abul Hassan Medersa, the district is also home to Salés' Grand Mosque, the Mausoleum of Sidi Ben Ashir with its photogenic whitewashed tomb, and the Fondouk (khan) al-Askour.

12 Kenitra


Established as a military fort by Morocco's first French Resident General in 1912, Kenitra is a modern town on the road to Tangier. Although the town doesn't have much to offer visitors, it's a great base for trips to nearby Mahdia with its long beach, a haven for windsurfers. Other nearby sightseeing attractions include the interesting Kasbah neighbourhood, and the Roman garrison site of Thamusida. The ruins of Thamusida include a temple, bath, housing and a large garrison camp area.
Location: 46 km north of Rabat

13 Temara


Temara is a favourite weekend and holiday beach for Rabat locals. The beach has natural bathing pools making it a great option for families with young children worried about the waves.
Location: 13 km from Rabat

14 Mamora Forest

The Mamora Forest is located southeast of Kenitra. The forest's 134,000 trees include 50% of the cork trees in Morocco, but there are also eucalyptus, pine, acacia and Mamora wild pear. There are excellent bird-watching opportunities within the forest - look for white storks and turtle doves.

15 Natural Science Museum

Rabat's Natural Science Museum has an impressive 150 million year old skeleton of a Sauropod dinosaur on display. It was discovered in 1979, in the High Atlas Azilal region. There are also exhibits on the earth's geological origins.
Location: Agdal District, Rabat

miércoles, 11 de marzo de 2015

Engelberg Tourist Attractions in Swizerland

The little town of Engelberg with its abbey, in a sunny basin under the north face of Titlis, is a popular winter and summer resort lying well away from the main traffic routes. Since 1815 it has been an enclave of the half-canton of Obwalden. It is a region of varied scenery; good walking country with hills and lakes, and with a number of cableways providing easy access to the mountains.The Benedictine abbey was founded in 1120, and its abbot held independent sway over the territory. In 1798 the town was released from ecclesiastical authority and became part of the canton of Obwalden.

Benedictine Abbey

At the upper end of Engelberg is the Benedictine abbey, founded about 1120, which ruled the whole valley until 1798. The handsome church, designed by Kaspar Moosburger, and the square complex of conventual buildings were rebuilt in 1730-37 after a fire. 
Rich library (men only admitted), with valuable manuscripts, incunabula and miniatures.Also of interest in Engelberg are the adjoining charnel-house and below the village the chapels St Jakob in Espen (17th C.) and Maria im Horbis (17th C.) at the so-called "end of the world". To the south, on the left bank of the Aawasser, are beautiful gardens surrounded by forest.

Recreation and Sport

Recreation and sports opportunities in Engelberg include: swimming (indoor and open-air pools), walking (walkers' railcards for mountain railroads and cableways), riding, tennis, summer skiing (ski-lift at upper station of Titlisbahn, 3,020 m/9,909ft). Skating rinks, curling rink, toboggan run from the Gershnialp (3.5km/2mi), hobby courses.


In the center of the country, Engelberg can get crowded on weekends but during the week it's a great place for a group of skiers of varying ability. 
Beginners find the slopes of the Gershnialp and Untertruebsee a gentle challenge while 10,000-foot Mount Titlis, with its spectacular views, is for the advanced skier. 
The town itself is small and historic with its onion-domed Benedictine Abbey and baroque church giving the resort a quiet charm.

Mountain Railroads (Cableways)

Terminus of narrow-gauge railroad from Lucerne via Stans (one hour); cableways Engelberg-Gerschnialp (length 528 m/1,733ft, height difference 264 m/868ft, time four minutes); Engelberg-Trübsee (length 2,195 m/7,204ft, height difference 531 m/1,742ft, time six minutes); Trübsee-Stand-Kleintitlis (length 3,465 m/11,369ft, height difference 1,220 m/4,003ft, time 14 minutes); Trübsee-Joch pass (length 1,459 m/4,787ft, height difference 439 m/1,440ft, time 13minutes); Engstlensee-Joch pass (length 1,631 m/5,351ft, height difference 273 m/896ft, time 10 minutes); Rindertitlis-Laubersgrat (length 1,183 m/3,883ft, height difference 385 m/1,264ft, time eight minutes); Engelberg-Brunni (length 1,193 m/3,914ft, height difference 582 m/1,910ft, time six minutes).


Climbs from Engelberg include: Titlis (3,239 m/10,627ft), usually starting either from the Trübsee Hotel or from Kleintitlis; Hutstock (2,680 m/8,793ft: six hours; wild goats); Schlossberg (3,155 m/10,351ft: eight hours); Engelberger Rotstock (2,820 m/9,252ft: six hours, with guide);


Urirotstock is one of the best climbs from Engelberg, (2932 m/9620ft: eight-nine hours, with guide).

Benedictine Way

The first stage of the Benedictine Way is from Engelberg village center via Brunni/Ristis (1,600 m/5,251ft), Alp Stafel (1,694 m/5,560ft) and Walenalp to Wolfenschiessen (guest houses). It continues by cableway to Haldiwald (1,400 m/4,595ft) or by cabin cableway to Schmidsboden (1,215 m/3,988ft) climbing down the Underrist-Hütti to Dallenwil (inn).


View from TitlisView from Titlis


Titlis (3,239 m/10,627ft), covered by eternal snow and ice, is the highest viewpoint in central Switzerland, offering a unique panorama of the Alps (ice cave, glacier trail). Restaurants on Titlis and in Stand (2,450 m/8,038ft). Cableway Engelberg-Titlis (45 minutes).
Address: Poststrasse 3, CH-6390 Engelberg, Switzerland

Stand - Solar Power Station

The highest experimental solar power station at Stand came into operation in 1988 with energy being produced by a bank of solar panels. With a nominal output at present of 2.3 kW, an annual output of between 3,000 and 3,500 kWh is expected.


From Engelberg there is a funicular to the Gerschnialp (1,266 m/4,154ft), and from there a cableway by way of the steep Pfaffenwand to the Trübsee Hotel (1,792 m/5,880ft); descent in two hours via the Trübseealp.


From Trübsee by chair lift (or on foot in 1.25 hours) to the Joch pass (2,215 m/7,267ft: ski hut), and from there a bridle-path (one hour) to the Engslensee (1,852 m/6,076ft), in a magnificent mountain setting, and on to the Engstlenalp (1,839 m/6,034ft), one of the finest areas of Alpine pasture in the country (rich flora, superb views) and the Melchsee.

Area Walks

Rewarding walks in the surrounding area of Engelberg can be taken to the Bergli (1,341 m/4,400ft); to the Surenenalp and Tätschbach Falls (1,090 m/3,576ft: restaurant); and by the Herrenrüti grazings to the Nieder-Surenenalp (1,260 m/4,134ft: restaurant) and the Arnialp.

miércoles, 4 de marzo de 2015

10 Top Tourist Attractions in Barcelona

Barcelona is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting millions upon millions of visitors each year. So why is it so popular? Well, it has almost everything any holidaymaker would desire.

Easy access, favorable weather conditions, attractive beaches and surrounding mountains, a buzzing nightlife, tasty local cuisine and it’s steeped in culture and history. It’s also a sight-seeing wonderland, housing many recognizable monuments.

Variety’s the word with Barcelona and the city has something for everyone; families, couples and singletons alike. There are the tourist attractions in Barcelona travelers shouldn’t miss if they ever decide to visit the Catalan capital:

You can visit this city in our tour Spain & Morocco of  10days / nights

Camp Nou

One for the sports fans, yet still one of Barcelona’s most popular attractions. This stadium is home to formidable European football champions F.C. Barcelona. With a capacity of 99,000 people, this breathtaking sporting arena is Europe’s largest. A tour of the ground is definitely worthwhile and you never know, you might be lucky enough to catch a game!

Museu Picasso

With over 4,000 works by the painter, the Museu Picasso houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th-century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. In particular, the Museu Picasso reveals Picasso’s relationship with the city of Barcelona, a relationship that was shaped in his youth and adolescence, and continued until his death. The museum is housed in five adjoining medieval palaces in Barcelona’s La Ribera.


flickr/Photo Kamil
Montjuïc is a broad shallow hill with a relatively flat top to the southwest of the city center. The eastern side of the hill is almost a sheer cliff, giving it a commanding view over the city’s harbor immediately below. The top of the hill was the site of several fortifications, the latest of which remains today. Another interesting sight is the Palau Nacional (National Palace), originally built as the central pavilion for the International Exhibition. The majestic building in neo-Baroque style is home to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC). Montjuïc is also home to a number of sports facilities built for the 1992 Olympics.
Where to Stay near the Montjuïc

Font Màgica

Font Màgica is a fountain located below the Palau Nacional on the Montjuïc hill and near the Plaça d’Espanya and Poble Espanyol de Barcelona. The fountain, like most of the surrounding developments, was constructed for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition. On selected evenings, when the fountain is activated, it attracts hundreds of visitors who watch the spectacular display of light, water and music. At the same time, the Palau National is illuminated, providing a beautiful background.

Casa Batllo

The Casa Batlló, a remodeled nineteenth century building, is one of Gaudí’s many masterpieces in Barcelona. Often overlooked for La Pedrera, La Casa Batllo is equally as stunning with its unique architecture and infamous two ornamental pillars in the entrance to the terrace. Its unique interior is just as extraordinary as its fairytale-like exterior.

Parc Guëll

Parc Güell. With other major works in the city including La Casa Batlló and La Pedrera, this has to be one of Antoni Gaudí’s most celebrated and it is certainly one of the most emblematic of Barcelona. The area was originally meant to be a residential property development with Gaudi doing much of the planning and landscape design. Only two houses were built and the land was later sold to the city of Barcelona and turned into a park. It is home to the famous Salamander sculpture, as well as other buildings and structures designed by the architect. With stunning views of the city, this is a magical experience.


Out of Barcelona’s seven different beaches, stretching over 4.5 km (2.8 miles) of coastline, Barceloneta probably tops them all. It is one of the most popular and is closest to the city center. Along the 1,100 meter (3,600 feet) sandy beach runs a walkway popular with joggers and cyclist. Not surprisingly this place can get crowded, especially during the summer months when the beach bars open up and the beach quickly fills up with locals and tourist.

Casa Milà

Casa Milà
flickr/Rob Shenk
Built between the years 1906 and 1910, Casa Milà (La Pedrera) was the last civil work designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. The colorful building is considered one of the artist’s most eccentric and enticing architectural creations with not one straight edge on the exterior. Tours of the interior and the incredible roof structures are available. It also hosts a large exposition of Gaudi works, covering Sagrada Familia and Casa Batlló, not only La Pedrera itself.

La Rambla

This is probably the city’s most famous street and is a bustling hive of activity. It is often called "Las Ramblas", because it is actually a series of several different streets that all have a distinct feel. Located just off  Plaza Catalunya and leading right down towards the port and beach, visitors will find street performers, lots of bars and restaurants and the fabulous Boquería Market, a true feast for the eyes.

Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia is the most popular attractions in Barcelona, attracting nearly 2.8 million visitors each year. It is a large and intricate basilica designed by Antoni Gaudi. Construction began in 1882 and continues to this day. The building is predicted to be completed within the next 30 years. Visitors will be captivated by the design elements and the religious symbolism built into all the spaces of the church. A glorious exterior and interior make La Sagrada Familia truly unmissable.

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